Assessing Existing Windows
One area of concern to many homeowners is the overall window condition and efficiency of windows in their home. Often overlooked is a criterion for evaluating existing windows before engaging in window installation or a do it yourself window replacement project for the entire home.
Basic questions to answer before planning a window project include:
- Is the goal to increase energy efficiency?
- Is the window installation project to replace windows with faulty or malfunctioning mechanisms?
- Is the window replacement project for aesthetic appearance?
- Is home window installation for purposes of more sufficient ventilation and light?
Sometimes window installation to increase energy efficiency is un-necessary with little or no change. Homes with the average window to wall ratio of 12 – 14% may see little or no change with window replacement. Unless, of course, present windows have a very high U-factor rating or are not well insulated.
Homes with a much higher window to wall ratio and those in locations with very hot or very cold temperatures can experience significant energy improvement with a window replacement upgrade.
Windows with good efficiency that are malfunctioning can usually be corrected with timely window repair, done at a fraction of the cost of replacement. Furthermore, window covering treatments such as certain types of curtains or window shades can also significantly improve energy efficiency.
Using Efficiency Ratings for Evaluation
There are three window efficiency ratings to consider when evaluating existing windows, or shopping for replacements. Whether planning casement window replacement, double hung window replacement, or just a picture window replacement, the following factors should be taken into consideration.
- Air leakage – this is the amount of air allowed to filter in or out of the dwelling from around the window frame or the window itself. It is measured in cubic feet per minute, per square foot of window area (including frame). The lower the rating, the tighter the window, consequently – the higher the efficiency.
- U-Factor is the rating of how much heat or cold is transmitted through the window panes or glazing. A variation of this rating is the National Fenestration Rating Council U-Factor, which includes the framing and spacer material for an overall rating. The lower the rating, the higher the efficiency of the window.
- Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) – is the amount of heat that is radiated into a room by direct sunlight entering the window, allowing heat to radiate from surfaces in the room. The lower the rating, the lower the amount of solar heating effect. Windows are available with intentional higher or lower SHGC ratings for different uses. Windows with a higher SHGC rating are good for winter solar heat on sides of a home with solar exposure, whereas windows with a low SHGC rating help keep the exposed sides of the home cooler in summer. One way to change this rating on any window is with window tinting. The addition of window film on the glass panes acts as a shade which reduces solar radiation.
Cost Factor Considerations
Window replacement cost is a very important factor for many homeowners. Vinyl window selection, efficiency, and cost make them a popular choice for old wood window replacement on older homes.
Older trailer houses commonly suffer window problems. Vinyl window replacement cost makes mobile home window replacement a very attractive option to spruce up and increase the value of these type homes.
When seeking to improve aesthetic appearance and money is no object, many homeowners turn to custom high-end wood cased windows. Custom wood cased windows can transform even the most mundane living room into a stunning showcase of craftsmanship and beauty. These hand-crafted windows come with a price tag that is not for the faint hearted, and the sky is the limit for extravagant custom designs.
When purchasing replacement windows, make sure to measure for the proper size to fit the rough openings once old windows are removed.
Basic Window Demolition and Installation
- Start by removing the old window. Use a utility knife to score paint around casing inside and out. Carefully pry off casing.
- For single hung windows, remove lower sash. For double hung, remove lower, then upper sash.
- Remove caulking and cut nails holding jamb with a reciprocating saw or special hack saw.
- Remove any remaining debris or protruding nails, so that the rough opening is clean and flush.
- Place new window in opening; adjust so it is centered. Check to make sure window is level, plumb, and square. Windows that are out of square will not operate properly. Use cedar shims to center and level the window. Most new windows have a pre-drilled nailing strip; use 1 ½ inch to 2-inch galvanized roofing nails to secure the window to the nailing flanges in the opening. Space nails 6 to 8-inches, or about every other pre-drilled hole in the strip.
- Use a hammer and chisel to trim shims flush with jamb.
- Carefully stuff insulation in gaps around window.
- Caulk around interior and exterior of window.
- Install exterior and interior trim casing around window.
Hiring a Professional
Properly completing a window installation or window replacement project requires a medium to advanced level of DIY skill. For that reason some homeowners may want to enlist the services of a professional. A general contractor, window installer, or window replacement contractor will have the necessary skills to quickly and correctly complete the project.
To locate reliable local contractors for either a Minnesota window replacement project, or a Massachusetts window replacement project, homeowners all across America are turning to HandyAmerican.com
At HandyAmerican.com locating reliable contractors in your community is easier than ever before. Homeowners sign up FREE, with no obligation whatsoever, and then post their window project online. Local contractor members view project details and provide competitive bids in days, even hours after project posting.
Homeowners can view each contractor member’s company profile, licensing, certification, and insurance credentials, customer references and feedback, and view photo galleries of recently completed projects. Then make an informed hiring decision, or hire no contractor at all. Remember – there is no obligation.